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A Bicycle Built For Two?!?

June 3, 2013 - Liz Skoczylas
Whoever said you never forget how to ride a bicycle clearly never met me.

In an effort to exercise more, my husband and I recently bought bicycles. For the past two summers, we have been very good at taking our dog for long walks, but this year I was aiming to kick it up a notch. Hence, bicycles.

Nick was already zooming his bike around the parking lot of the store after purchase, I was trying to figure out if I even remembered HOW to ride. After an extremely shaky start, it turns out riding a bike DOES eventually come back to you.

Because we are so incredibly domesticated now that we are married, the same day we bought bikes, we also decided to plant flowers in front of our house. This has nothing to do with the bicycles, I'm just throwing it out there because, a week later, most of the flowers are even still alive. Look at us, being all married and doing adult-things and such.

Anywho, we went for our first bike ride after the flower-planting. And, my poor husband almost died. Not in the sense that he fell or almost got hit or anything. We both learned we are a tad bit out of shape, but since this is my blog and he's at work right now, I get to say he was more out of shape than me. In fact, I believe his exact words were, "I'm going to die!"

Riding a bike at my age of 26 is nowhere near as easy as it was when I was eight and it was my main means of summertime transportation. In fact, I will even go so far as to say that bike riding when you are out of shape sucks. But, when you fall off a bike (or horse?) you are supposed to get back on and try again. So, we did. The very next night.

When we got home from that little expedition, we made the mistake of wanting to do laundry. (Ok, no one WANTS to do laundry. It was necessity.) Nick carried the laundry basket down the stairs for me... And we both grumbled about how much it hurt to even walk down the stairs. Then we realized we would have to walk back UP the stairs... And briefly contemplated just sleeping in our basement.

A week later, the bike-riding is getting a little better. I have been taking my bike to the grocery store when I just need a few items, and I'm super-psyched it hasn't been stolen. Although, my bike is bright pink with pink and white flowers on it, so, really, I don't think anyone is looking at it as a prime piece of metal. The rain last week and my crazy work schedule kind of put a damper on going out too many times, but at least the bikes are getting some use.

Because I love the rules of the road, I am going to share some interesting New York state bike safety laws.

I thought it was a law that you could not ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. In fact, it is not a New York state law, but an ordinance passed by the municipality.

"While riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is not prohibited by New York statutes, some municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting bicycle traffic on certain sidewalks. This prohibition is usually posted. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Cyclists on sidewalks can cause conflicts with pedestrians; like wrong-way riding, crashes can occur because bicyclists are in situations where others do not expect them. Except for very young cyclists under parental supervision, sidewalks are not for bicycling." (dot.ny.gov)

Bikers are, however, supposed to ride WITH traffic when on the road, whereas pedestrians are supposed to walk facing it if there are no sidewalks. I don't write these rules, I just follow them.

One of the most important things, to me, is letting people know that drivers of a vehicle are to exercise due care when traveling around a bicycle. Many times, people in vehicles seem to believe they are in charge of the road, and everyone else - including motorcycles and pedestrians - are to watch out for them. Not true.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian, or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary." (safeny.ny.gov)

Also:

"1. A driver of a motor vehicle who causes physical injury as defined in article ten of the penal law to a pedestrian or bicyclist while failing to exercise due care in violation of subdivision (a) of this section, shall be guilty of a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days or by both such fine and imprisonment. "2. If such driver of a motor vehicle causes physical injury while failing to exercise due care in violation of subdivision (a) of this section, then there shall be a rebuttable presumption that, as a result of such failure to exercise due care, such person operated the motor vehicle in a manner that caused such physical injury." (safeny.ny.gov)

So, really, drivers of vehicles should be covering their own butts, rather than trying to run pedestrians and bicyclists off the road, as I think we see too often, especially as the warm weather hits and car/bike/pedestrian accidents tend to rise.

Now, I'm not saying bikers and pedestrians get off totally scott-free. Reading these laws, I found that my cute pink bike is breaking the law by not having a bell or horn on it. I will be fixing this shortly. Also, bikers, did you know you have to follow traffic laws, which include stopping for red lights and stop signs? You do. And, if a pedestrian is in a cross walk, you have to stop for them, just like a vehicle would.

With me being a reporter, and Nick being a volunteer firefighter, we both know that when the tones go off and you hear an accident on the scanner, you never know what it's going to be like when you get to the scene. We both have seen first-hand more than our fair share of fatalities because the driver/biker/pedestrian was not following simple rules. But, if we all educate ourselves and take the time to be sure we are following the law, hopefully we can help decrease the number of accidents.

 
 

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